I have been a lawyer now for over 16 years.
Thankfully, I experienced constant employment during that period although twice I wondered if that would be the case. I have worked for four employers and have been in my last position for two years.
Why the employment history? Well, during all 16+ of those years I have had an office. You know, the kind with walls where you hang your overpriced framed diplomas and talk loudly on the speaker phone because you can shut the door.
That’s right. No walls. No doors. Just open air all around the entire floor for me and my colleagues.
Holy crapoly. (You know my colleagues are saying that even louder. See my penchant for speaking loudly on conference calls noted above.)
Since this is a post on what is typically “Leadership Tuesday,” maybe I shouldn’t be so honest about the fact that I needed a brown paper bag when I saw the little cubby I would be sharing with a co-worker for five months until our permanent digs are ready (which will also be wall-less, but at least my wall-less space won’t be shared). I was one of the first to arrive, so as I unpacked my little moving crates, I could see people’s faces as they walked in and surveyed our very new working environment. By the time full-scale panic set in for the people in my little area, I started passing out hugs instead of paper bags (I only temporarily rose to the occasion).
Interestingly, we were watching Pollyanna in our house. It takes us about three nights to make it through the movie, so when I arrived home last night, Day 1 of my new office down, we were in the thick of the glad game. Do you know classic Haley Mills Pollyanna? Oh, you must watch it. I cry at the end every time. In the movie, Pollyanna has had a hard life but her father taught her the glad game. That no matter how hard the circumstance, you find something to be glad about.
Well, that Pollyanna knew something about successful leadership. All the research actually bears this simple principle out: optimists lead well. And change takes some serious optimism. Whether you are leading the change, and casting your vision for the potential on the other side of working through the change, or whether you being caught up in the change, and engaging others to keep moving even when the change is remarkably unsettling, it is critical to keep a positive outlook and even a sense of humor.
If you are accommodating change in your life, then channel your inner Pollyanna (it’s there somewhere) and play the glad game. Write it down. Canonize the good because that internal voice will hound you with the bad if you’re not careful. So here’s my glad game list from yesterday – not epically visionary for the most part, but glad nonetheless:
1. I’m glad for the awesome new bathrooms. Well, more specifically the toilets. Y’all, don’t laugh, this is serious business. There are two kinds of toilets: the kinds with handles you have to flush, icky germs, and the kinds that automatically flush and inadvertently flush too early and you get pee-pee water on your bottom. C’mon, let’s be honest. It’s happened to you, right? Just nod your head diplomatically in either event. But THESE toilets, well you just wave your hand over this sensor and then they flush. Revolutionary in public bathrooms! No icky germs and no early flush spray!
2. I’m glad for my girlfriends. I have some precious girlfriends at my work. Friends like I’ve never had at any other job before. Girls I’m excited to go to lunch with or moon over the cupcake shop together (and yes, I’m glad there’s a yummy cupcake shop – glad and sad simultaneously). Girls I’m going to take a Pilates reformer class with because we like each other enough to show our uncoordinated, less than perfect self. I love that we can just pop up and see each other and say, “hey, let’s run up the stairs for a cup of coffee.” What a gift.
3. I’m glad for being shaken out of my comfort zone. Sixteen years in an office has been nice. I am SAD my walls are gone. But the people casting vision for the new campus (which is really beautiful, for which I’m also glad) designed it for the next generation. To build bridges and increase collaboration. I think there are going to obstacles in the legal world, but I also saw today that I did in fact bump into more people and ones that it’s good for me to bump into. Even if it is hard, it will stretch me and that’s where growth comes, right? From the stretching. Moving into the learning zone as the authors of How Remarkable Women Lead put it for leaders. Out of the comfort zone and into the learning zone.
So take a deep breath, fill that glass half full, and begin accommodating changes hurling toward you this New Year!